Tuesday, December 10, 2019

"The Christmas Gathering"

Here it is: our first Christmas Christmas story--a Beagle Boys joint by Gorm Transgaard, and boy is it ever not his fault that his name always makes me think "gormless," but it absolutely does. Of course, if being without gorm means being kind of weak and dopey, you'd think it would that gorm would be a good thing, but my brain refuses to work that way. Well...so it goes.

I have to say, I think you should be careful about hyping up your plans to that degree. I'm not saying hyperbole is never called for, but when you're writing a pretty standard sort of story that, whatever its quality, will be swiftly forgotten...well, if it's genuinely one of the most ingenious things they've ever done, go for it, but if not, it might be better not to create unrealistic expectations. Well, we'll see.

Nope, still not a big fan of the "Beagles as massive international crime syndicate" thing. Yes I know it's almost universal, there's no point in my getting all het up, but I dunno; I guess I prefer a smaller, more intimate sort of criminal gang. But regardless of that, I do find the degree of build-up here excessive. I am NOT filled with suspense, Gorm! I'm just impatient for you to get on with it!

Hmm. What is this? This is not crime. This is not Beagley. What are we even doing here?

Welp, obviously Transgaard anticipated my objections, so we have this justification. Mind you, I don't find it to be a particularly good justification. What's this "we can't create suspicion" nonsense? If you create suspicion, well, that comes with the territory! You've gotta just deal with it! If you're scared of blood, don't become a doctor!

Also, "we all know how big our mother is?" If we're talking about the Ducktales Ma Beagle, then...not that big? Okay okay, maybe we're talking about her outsize personality. I'm just nitpicking here. Although really, the idea that she's mother to all of them? Well, again, this is Ducktales canon I suppose, but eh. A fan, again, I am not.

I mean, granted, it is kind of amusing to see them roughing up passers-by in Santa suits, and perhaps that's all the justification you need, but to me, a big problem with the story is that the Christmas stuff all seems forcible shoe-horned in, as opposed to being anything organic to the narrative.

And this police station stuff, it only takes up a single page, sure, but it is conspicuous in its total irrelevance to the story as a whole.

Transgaard seems somewhat hung up on justifying why any of this was necessary. I don't know if it's good to have such threadbare infrastructure for your story. If you'll recall, there's no evidence that they had to engage in legal activity to build their Paul Bunyan Machine (though granted, they were at one point planning to repurpose it for legal activity, so maybe all my objections here are meaningless, but I'm just going to carry on like they're perfectly valid. Okay.).

Anyway: this. I mean, it's okay, but describing this as some sort of amazing, unparalleled new idea seems doubtful. I mean, in a post-Paul-Bunyan-Machine, post-Giant-Robot-Robbers world, it seems like old hat. And though I hate to say it, there's no reason whatsoever that the robot has to be Santa-themed. That doesn't play into their plans at all. Really, the only thing in this story that--it could be argued--is irreducibly Christmas-based is the alleged Spirit of Giving that's going to cause people to donate money to them, and even that seems a bit shaky. I'm certainly not opposed to a giant Christmas-themed robot, but it needs more justification, I think.

But allow me to ask the age-old question: who would steal the candy from a laughing baby's mouth if he could take it from the money man? This is obviously only here because "taking candy from a baby" is a phrase. I'm not sure if that's the greatest way to run your story. Whatever. I realize I'm probably being excessively nitpicky in this entry.

Anyway, they're brought down by random chance because some security guards are playing Christmas music that interferes with the robot, but if that's the case, how is it that any ol' Duckburg radio station isn't enough to make it go haywire?

Also, "Jingle Bell Rock" is a pretty bad song, and even if you like it, you have to concede that it doesn't actually "rock" even a tiny bit. It's just a light jazz number.

I'm glad the out-of-town Beagles escaped. I like it when criminals get away with criminal behavior, on account of I'm Soft on Crime. I also do enjoy the robot being repurposed as a Christmas decoration.

However, in addition to my other problems, the main thing, probably, is that the story just seems centerless. This might be a thing with Beagle stories in general, but with no named characters to be antagonists and protagonists who don't have names or individual personalities (and who, due to the aforementioned lack of antagonists, have to end up defeating themselves), the whole thing just feels lopsided. I don't know. There are certain things about this that I don't hate, but I'd have to call it pretty forgettable overall.

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Blogger Achille Talon said...

Inasmuch as I go for separating "the DuckTales canon" from the general mishmash of the comics — and I don't very much — I would have to say that this story is emphatically not part of "DuckTales canon", or else all the visiting Beagle cousins would have been "themed" characters rather than more identical twins with serial numbers for names. In fact, for that same reason, it doesn't even fit into the continuity established by Vic Lockman for the Beagle Boys in their solo title. They too had the Theme Beagles, which was all the fun of giant Beagle Boy family gatherings like this one.

I also don't think Ma Beagle is supposed to be the mother of all the worldwide Beagles, even in DuckTales. (DuckTales 2017 may be another thing entirely, but as you yourself have said, it's not like its Beagle Boys have much of anything to do with the comics-Beagles.)

December 11, 2019 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

(By the way, are you still planning to review Season 2 of DuckTales 2017 on Duck Cartoons Revue? If not episode-by-episode, should you find that too soul-crushing, I, and likely many other readers of yours, would still be interested in a one-post "overall thoughts" thing.)

December 11, 2019 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Heh. Te opening dialog remind Me of a fan-parody story I once wrote (must draw it one day) which starts with Glomgold telling Bealges their plans
Beagle 1 (whispers) – He said this will be his BEST PLAN YET!
Beagle 2 (making face like he is totally mind-blown by possibilities) – Wooooooaaaa….

Any way… I do find the stories like this tad confusing when they make Beagle Boys a corporation… So is the idea it’s an organization that’s only hire people who all look alike, have the same personality and have criminals aspirations? I like when they are simply bunch of brothers (or at least cousins) like the Daltons from Lucky Luke series. Here from what I see they wanted to have it both ways and it doesn’t quite work…

I do think however the concept of them having one mother (MA BEAGLE) works in the Duck Tales universe where the laws are clearly tad more cartoonish as far how much antromorphic the animals are and if DUCK lay eggs in Ducktales world then Ma Beagle being a bitch is would normally give birth to 8 to 12 puppies at a time. If she hopefully didn’t eat few I can easily find the size of her family plausible. Of course this means there are some age gaps between the Beagles brothers here.

I like the line about Beagle family having thing about “Scrooges” funny. Makes you wonder why they didn’t use the robot attack the Money Bin, felt like this would be their number one target after they make some practice looting.

FINALLY – Last year we talk that you may try to review “Mickey Once Upon a Christmas”, “Mickey Twice Upon a Christmas” and “Mickey Mouse : Duck the Halls” [tempting voice] The last two have Scroooooge [/tempting voice] The Duck Tales had a pretty fun Christmas special as well ;)

December 11, 2019 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

And yes much like Achille Talon I would love to hear your opinions on season 2 of DuckTales 2017... There is some stuff like Feathry episode, Three Caballeros episode or Bubba Duck episode (which in my opinion actualy make that character wokr thanks to few interesting modification) I would love to hear your thoghts. The Darkwing Duck episode is especialy atention worthy and I think you would genuainly loved that one.

December 11, 2019 at 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I also like some of the dialogue: "my whole family has a thing about Scrooges" and the line where the foreign Beagle complains that his strict moral upbringing won't let him take money if people just give it to him and he doesn't have to work for it (i.e. steal it). I wonder how the "You're busted!" pun worked in other languages?

Also, I like the Beagle-mask-type outline of the robot's eyes.

I think there are loads of stories written for Christmastime issues where the story's connection to the season is tenuous at best. (Hey, the jewels are hidden in a china *Santa*! Of course it's a Christmas story!) At least this one has both the Beagles-as-shakedown-Santas and the giant-robot-as-Christmas-tree.

December 12, 2019 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

As for the "You busted" line feels like a joke that can be easly replace in other languages with some other joke :

- You there, don't move!
- You don't have to tell me that twice

or something like that. The Polish translation for example seaks in Polish puns and popculture refrence all the time into the dialog

December 12, 2019 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Oh, yes, Pan, for the record, the idea very much is that the Beagle family is one enormous family with lots of cousins, not that they hire people. I think there might have been one or two stories where they were just a crime syndicate, but in most stories which use the "gigantic worldwide Beagle Boys web" they very much are family.

December 12, 2019 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Oh I know they are brothers obviously. That's why I don't like whenever they suggest they are just a corporation.

December 12, 2019 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Yes, yes, but what I mean is that the stories like this one which feature hundreds of worldwide Beagles don't suggest they are just a corporation, usually.

December 12, 2019 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

ALSO - "Jingle Belle" Rock is an cute song. It's just needs a Heavy metal cover.

December 13, 2019 at 7:49 AM  

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